Army recruitment a 'big challenge'


The campaign has been titled "More than meets the eye"

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Army recruitment is a "big challenge" the defence secretary has said, as the Army launched a £3m campaign to boost regular and reserve forces.

Philip Hammond said the purpose of the campaign, titled "More than meets the eye", was to "dispel the myth" that the Army is not recruiting.

The new drive comes as the Army is being cut from 100,000 to about 82,000.

But it wants to increase the Army Reserve from 19,000 to 30,000, and has failed to meet its targets so far.

'Challenge and adventure'

Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by the Army to mark the campaign's launch suggested that 23% of people were not satisfied with their current career.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond: "I want to dispel forever the myth that somehow the Army isn't recruiting"

When asked what was missing, 30% said a decent salary; 27% said excellent training and personal development; 25% said a challenging and exciting role; 35% said UK and overseas travel; and 18% said getting paid while getting qualifications.

The research, carried out by OnePoll, surveyed 2,000 people in December 2013.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said this was the Army's third campaign in a year - stressing it had so far failed to meet its targets for recruiting reservists.

As part of the recruitment drive, TV and cinema adverts will show how the Army Reserve - formerly known as the Territorial Army - is integrated with its counterpart.

Mr Hammond told BBC Breakfast there is not a recruitment crisis, but "there's certainly a big challenge in continuing the flow of recruits to the Army and indeed to the other services".


Launching a £3m recruiting campaign in the midst of ongoing defence cuts may seem perverse. Later this month the Army will be announcing the fourth round of its redundancy programme as the overall size of the regular force shrinks by 20,000.

But the Army says it is an organisation that always need a healthy flow of new recruits. That may prove to be an increasingly hard task as the Army moves from operations to contingencies. By the end of this year all British combat troops will have left Afghanistan.

The other challenge will be dramatically increasing the size of the Army Reserve. The new restructured Army will rely more on part time soldiers. But so far the Army has struggled to meet its recruiting targets and this will be the third high profile recruiting campaign it has launched within the past year.

"The end of the campaign in Afghanistan is going to change the proposition and we need to get across to people what the Army is about, what the Army will be doing post the Afghanistan campaign," he said.

"The purpose of the campaign that we're launching today is to dispel forever the myth that somehow the Army isn't recruiting.

"Yes, the regular Army will be smaller in the future than it has been in the past and, yes, there will be one further round of redundancies unfortunately, but that does not mean that the army is not recruiting."

'Defence on cheap'

The Conservative MP and former soldier John Baron criticised the government's plans.

"The plans to replace 20,000 regulars with 30,000 reservists is fundamentally flawed, both because I think it's going to cost a lot more than government envisages to actually execute... but also there's a capability gap.

"The original plan was to hold the 20,000 regulars in place until we knew that the reservist plan was going to work.

"That plan was changed to save money; we're trying to get defence on the cheap and now we're seeing the result of that because we know that there are real problems with trying to recruit."

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said the campaign was a welcome step towards acknowledging Labour's concerns that there would be a significant capability gap in the Army.

Graphic showing the restructure of the Army under Army 2020

He said: "Labour previously called for the government to pause its reductions to numbers in the regular Army until it was clear there could be adequate uplift in the numbers of reserves. We hope the recruitment campaign is a success. This really is the last chance for the government to get its Army reform plans back on track."

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said the policy is under pressure

Chief of the General Staff, Gen Sir Peter Wall, said: "The Army offers people unique opportunities for challenge and adventure, both at home and overseas, during peacetime and on operations.

"It develops personal qualities that are key to success in any walk of life: leadership, judgement, determination, and physical stamina."

Later in January, the Army will announce the fourth round of its redundancy programme as the overall size of the regular force continues to be reduced.

January will also see the MoD launching a simplified online application form, a more streamlined medical clearance process and an army fitness app to make it easier for potential recruits to join.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    We need to get a move on with this high tech invisible camoflage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I really can't understand why they are paying off thousands of service men to then employ raw recruits that will need lots of training. The amount of skilled staff have, or are, going is mind boggling. What idiot thought up that one? It's not surprising they can't get people interested in joining.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    " "More than meets the eye", was to "dispel the myth" that the Army is not recruiting The new drive comes as the Army is being cut from 100,000 to about 82,000"
    Says it all really... and remember charities like "Help the Heroes" funded by the public are left to pick up the pieces when it comes to illegal wars
    Tony Blair and G.W Bush have got blood on them....up to their elbows..

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    The irony of being sent out to foreign lands possibly to die to protect other peoples human rights when your own human right to your own children as a father is completely denied and unprotected in the UK by the government which sent you out to die. Come home from war with maybe a limb missing trying to help others, you childrens mother walks off with your kids and no-one will help you see them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    I feel really sorry for all those long serving, trained members of our armed forces being made redundant and having to hear how hard recruitment is. A high five to the face.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    This Government should hang their heads in shame, if they had any shame. Cameron bangs on about what a wonderful job are troops do, and oh, by the way you are redundant, bye. To have a recruiting campaign when they are getting rid of experienced personnel? Sorry But am I the only one that thinks this s another example of the Governments stupidity?

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    did the recruitment not get privatized. i know most recruitment offices got shut down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Where has all the money for maintaining our armed forces gone?

    Why is there no funding to pay for a full-time, professional army?

    Oh I remember now - it all went on housing and keeping immigrants.

    Sorry I forgot

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Who's going to pick a fight with us? Russia? China? France? North Korea? If a real war broke out we would send bombers or nukes. IN the end troops on the ground are to protect home and here is home. Picking fights with twits running around in dresses who blow up their children in the name of a myth is not worth a full time Army.
    Airforce and aircraft carriers are still needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    ... No mention on the bbc about the russion warship carrying missiles that challenged scotish waters .. The navy had to scramble from portsmouth and it took 12 hours

    Get your facts right. I am in the navy and was once of the affected by your "scramble". It was not a scramble but a usual occurrence at this time of the year. The Russians did not challenge Scottish waters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    So even the army isnt exempt from zero hour contracts and agency workers. Nice plan guys, i hope you are never invaded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    The tories (and labour if they ever again become electable) view the army etc as massive "hidden" revenue - all that land, easily chopped wages/numbers. Bottom line is someone has to carry the cost of these reserves - either the govt directly if regulars or businesses who cant afford to pay
    Mate of mine was reservist, felt cheated and undermined

    bang, bang the professionals be the best, not now

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    How about : "Got no qualifications? Dropped out of school? Future look bleak? Join the Army!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I served for 20 years in the Army and the last 10 years in the NHS. The government seems intent on destroying both. At some point the people will fight back - I can't wait!

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    "Army recruitment is a "big challenge"" I wonder why?

    It can't be to do with being constantly undermined by the gov
    It can't be to do with cuts at the bottom and not at the top brass
    It can't be to do with the poor state of much military housing
    It can't be to do with the fact that officers drunk on duty don't get punished, while protesting squaddies get jail

    I wonder what it could be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    The Army should climb Everest or something to inspire younger people. Oh I remember now, they did that. And failed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    How about a simple, honest recruitment drive: "Will you put your life on the line to defend your country?"

    That's what soldiers are for and new recruits shouldn't be led to believe otherwise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Which country are we planning on invading next.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I did 8 years in he army, I left in 96. I now have three sons. I wouldn't encourage any of them to join. The army can be a good life, you make great friends and the public's support is fantastic. What isn't great is the treatment the government provides to soldiers who are damaged, physically and mentally. That we need charities to care for them is a disgrace. Once you're out they don't care.


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